November 9, 2012

Are Dawgs really focused?

For those worried if there's a chance 5th-ranked Georgia overlooks an Auburn team whose season has come apart at the proverbial seams, Bulldog head coach Mark Richt has this to say.

"Oh, no, you kidding me?" Richt said. "There's no chance. No chance."

One certainly wouldn't think Richt would have to say much to get his team motivated and ready to go.

Yes, the Tigers (2-7, 0-6) are enduring their worst season in recent memory and rumors about head coach Gene Chizik's job security are running rampant, just two season after winning the national championship for Auburn.

But once you consider that Georgia (8-1, 6-1) can get back to Atlanta for the second straight year as the SEC East champ, there really shouldn't be much to be said.

"That Florida game won't mean a thing unless we win this one," linebacker Jarvis Jones said. "Nothing matters unless we win this one Saturday night."

Jones couldn't be more correct.

Lose to Auburn, and arch-rival Florida will go to Atlanta, most likely against top-ranked Alabama, leaving Georgia's post-season destination completely up in the air.

"You know how I feel about the situation, and the guys feel the same way," Jones said. "We're still grinding and trying to get better every day. We've just been working on the things that got us here so far and just trying to play with that edge. We're just going to play with that tempo of being physical, execute and have fun."

Wide receiver Rhett McGowan said the notion that Georgia could somehow overlook the Tigers is ludicrous.

"We know that this is the most important game of the year," McGowan said. "We know that feeling last year after we beat Kentucky to clinch and we want to feel that again. We'll be ready to take care of business."

Cornerback Damian Swann said the Bulldog defense has every intention of doing its part to make sure Saturday night is a success.

"We just have to execute our game plan," Swann said. "I don't really think it's going to be what Auburn does on offense, it's what we're going to do on defense."

At least as far as the past two games are concerned, Georgia has been very good. Against Florida and Ole Miss the Bulldogs combined to hold the two teams to an average of 9.5 points and 250 yards per game.

Auburn comes into the contest ranked next-to-last in the SEC in both scoring offense (19.2 points per game) and total offense (305.2 yards per game) and will open with freshman quarterback Jonathan Wallace who will be making just his second career start.

"I feel we were capable of playing like that the whole year, and I think we had a couple of games where we didn't show up too well. A lot of people questioned us, and we had a big test two weeks ago with Florida and we answered," Swann said. "Then, a lot of people said 'Well, that's just one game let's see you do it again' and we came back last week and played another lights out game. We just have to keep the momentum going and I think we will be fine."

But the Bulldogs also know that a wounded animal can be a dangerous foe.

"They have nothing to lose and we actually heard a guy say they would love nothing more than to ruin our season, so in this rivalry game, that's really what it is," McGowan said. "We don't need anything to pump us up, they don't need anything to pump them up, but they definitely don't have nothing to lose and that makes them that much more dangerous."

Richt could not agree more.

"There's just no way we're going to overlook Auburn," he said. "There's no way… there's no way."